Monday, January 05, 2009

Best collections of literary letters 2008

For National Public Radio, Troy Patterson selected the year's best collections of literary letters, genuine and otherwise.

One title on his list:
Dear American Airlines, by Jonathan Miles

Employing a highly risky device to deeply rewarding effect, Miles structures his first novel as a harangue handwritten during a torturous airport delay. As protagonist Benjamin Ford writes to request a refund in the amount of $392.68, the titular salutation develops into a ritual incantation — "Dear American Airlines, enclosed please find my sciatic nerve" — and the howl of complaint builds into a vibrantly bellowing, Saul-Bellowing confession. Bennie, profane and pithy, itches to make it to Los Angeles to reunite with his daughter, whom he hasn't seen since she was an infant, and walk her down the aisle at her "commitment ceremony." This is an account of how life deposited him in the purgatory of O'Hare. The narrative pushes full-thrust through droll remembrance and weathered self-remonstrance, the author hitting the jets with a confidence that lets us take his wild comedy very sincerely.
Read about another collection to make the list.

The Page 69 Test: Dear American Airlines.

--Marshal Zeringue